1895- LA SORTIE DES USINES
Although the invention of animated cartoons occurred earlier than that of the Cinematographe, I would not like to begin this section without paying homage to the Lumière brothers and to the first projected movie in a public place (the Indian Salon at the Grand Café of Paris, on the 28th of December, 1895). This was not only the first public screening but also the first time an audience had bought tickets to see a movie. That movie was La Sortie des Usines.
The plot, the argument, the editing, and the special effects are of no importance here. The really important thing is to try to travel back to that early era and re-live the magic and emotion which must have been experienced that first audience, watching the very first images in movement, in all the history of cinema.
1896- L'ARRIVÉE D'UN TRAIN A LA CIOTAT
This other Lumière brothers movie is, without a doubt, their best known. It is even often wrongly referred to as their first movie but the truth is that it was actually shot a year after La Sortie des Usines, in 1896.
Legend has it that when the audience at that first screening saw how the train came hurtling towards the camera, they stood up from their seats, frightened they would be run down by it.
1900- THE ENCHANTED DRAWING
By the film producer James Stuart Blackton, was a production of Vitagraph Company of America. Mistakenly considered the first animated film. Actually, it was filmed continuously, with only a few cuts in it to change the expresion of the character.
1905- EL HOTEL ELÉCTRICO
Segundo de Chomón, in his studios in Barcelona (Spain), filmed the experimental film titled El Hotel Eléctrico (The Electric Hotel). This was the first picture filmed using the technique of pixilation, which consist of manipulating elements and characters in the set between each filmed frame. The viewer has the sensation that the objects and characters are moving by themselves. El Hotel Eléctrico was not the first animated cartoon, but it was the first animated film and the first to use the one turn, one picture system, which is still being used by animators today.
1906- HUMOROUS PHASES OF FUNNY FACES
Again a production of Vitagraph Company of America. In it we see the artit drawing characters on a blackboard; the characters come to life through the frame-by-frame technique.
The frenchman Émile Cohl is considered by many historians to be the true father of animated cartoons. His movie Fantasmagoria, 177 feet (36 m) long and 1 minute 57 seconds in duration, is completely interpreted by simple line characters animated frame by frame. Émile Cohl made about 300 films, but barely 65 have been preserved. He worked in France, England, and the United States.
1911- LITTLE NEMO
The American, Windsor McCay, made the first adaptation to animated cartoons of his own character, Little Nemo. 4000 drawings were needed to do it and, after that first animated adventure, the author combined his comic strip career with animated cartoons, throughout the rest of his life.
1914- GERTIE THE DINOSAUR
One of Windsor McCay’s first successful characters was Gertie the Dinosaur. In this movie, we can see how the animated dinosaur obeys the orders given by her creator, who was placed in front of the projection screen, and who interacted with her.
1915- EARL HURD
The American, Earl Hurd, was the inventor of the acetate for animation. This consisted of a transparent sheet on which the animated objects and characters were painted, which was then laid over a fixed background. It revolutionized the incipiend industry of this era; because of the transparent acetate it was no longer necessary to draw the background in each frame, which saved a great deal of work.
The invention was patented by BRAY STUDIOS INC and EARL HURD, this movie filmed in 1916 is an example of it: BOBBY BUMPS STARTS A LODGE.
1916- KRAZY KAT
The animated cartoon industry was born with Krazy Kat, a creation of the American George Herriman, followed by a proliferation of characters in a vast number of shorts; the majority of them were comic adaptations who were brought to the screen, following their earlier popularity with readers.
The Krazy Kat short we have selected is Krazy Kat Goes A-Wooing and it was one of the first made in 1916, by the International Film Service, Inc.
1917- MAX FLEISCHER
In 1917, the filmmaker Max Fleischer patented a device called the Rotoscope which was used to capture live action images and use them as references for traditional animation, giving nearly real movements to the characters. With it he made a series called Out of the Inkwell, starring Koko the Clown, who was partially rotoscoped in a lot of the episodes.
The next episode, called The Tantalizing Fly, was made in 1919 and it is the second chapter produced at Bray Studios.
1919- FELIX THE CAT
Pat Sullivan and Otto Mesmer made the first Felix the Cat movie. The advntures of the charming character created by Otto Mesmer and produced by Pat Sullivan were recounted in approximately 175 films made between 1919 and 1930. Felix the Cat could be considered the first series of the animated cartoon industry.
1928- STEAMBOAT WILLIE
Walt Disney made the first animated film with sound, with Mickey Mouse as the star, titled Steamboat Willie. It lasted 7 minutes and 45 seconds. Ub Iwerks was the principal animator, and the sound was done using the Cinephone monaural system, which syncroniced the sound effects with the music, performed by Carl Stalling.
1932- FLOWERS AND TREES
The first animated film in color was also produced by Disney. Flowers and Trees was the first to use the Technicolor system.